Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay – A Familiar Bird with a New Name

/, Cascade Springs, Ophir Canyon, Tooele County, Uinta National Forest, Utah, Wasatch County, Woodhouse's Scrub-Jays/Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay – A Familiar Bird with a New Name

Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay adultWoodhouse’s Scrub-Jay adult – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 500, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The long-awaited Scrub-Jay split has officially happened! Western Scrub-Jay can be crossed out in a our fields guides (yes, I do that) and the two new names California Scrub-Jay and Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay can be penciled in. California Scrub-Jays are more coastal and Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jays are more inland, there is a bit of overlap of their ranges in Nevada. The two species have differences in appearance, habitat, voice and behavior. The scientific name for California Scrub-Jay is Aphelocoma californica and for Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay it is Aphelocoma woodhouseii.

Fluffed up Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay on a winter dayFluffed up Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay on a winter day – Nikon D810, f71, 1/2000, ISO 640, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Our “new” scrub-jay gets its name from Samuel Washington Woodhouse (1821-1904), a doctor and naturalist who was the author of  A Naturalist in Indian Territory: The Journal of S. W. Woodhouse. He also had a toad named in his honor.

So the scrub-jays here in the Great Basin and the Interior West are now Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jays. I don’t know about any one else but for the time being I am just going to call them “scrub-jays” when I spot them in the field until I get used to calling the jays by their new and fancier sounding name.

I guess I need to head west to add California Scrub-Jays to my portfolio!

Life is good. Birds make it better!


The first image was taken near Cascade Springs in the Uinta National Forest, Wasatch County, the second image was taken in Ophir Canyon in Tooele County, Utah


  1. Mia McPherson July 10, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Thank you all!

  2. Utahbooklover July 10, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    Nice images. Will take your advise and update my latest bird guide. Thanks!

  3. Lois Bryan July 9, 2016 at 9:04 am

    Beautiful … in particular I love that shot of birdie in the pine needles and snow!!!!!!

  4. Pepe Forte July 8, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    Beautiful shot. Exquisite detail. Sweet.

  5. Elephant's Child July 8, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    I do love that we are continuing to learn about the other creatures which inhabit the world.
    And the images here are, as always, gorgeous.
    Thank you.

  6. M. Bruce July 8, 2016 at 11:17 am

    Thanks for the update Mia. I just purchased the latest 2016 version of Sibley Birds West, but unfortunately it came out before this change. I will update it now – as neatly as possible.

  7. Deborah July 8, 2016 at 9:44 am

    I love these birds. While the Southern Blue Jay is my favorite, these Jays are impressive.
    I Absolutely adore your photo in the snow covered Pine. Stellar frame.

  8. Wally July 8, 2016 at 9:07 am

    Superb photographs, Mia! Interesting change as biologists continue to find differences in similar-looking species. Florida Scrub Jays are another example. Now I’m gonna hafta head out west for two MORE scrub jays!

  9. Carol July 8, 2016 at 8:40 am

    Great pictures. I have a pair of California Scrub Jays hopping around my back yard right now. One of them is eating yet another egg from a dove’s nest. Beautiful birds but quite the egg thieves!

  10. pennypinchadventure Tim Traver July 8, 2016 at 8:21 am

    Our version of the scrub jay split is Bicknell’s Thrush and Gray-cheeked Thrush. It’s kind of nice having our own thrush, but it does beg the question — is Brexit a good thing or a bad thing?

  11. Patty Chadwick July 8, 2016 at 7:26 am

    Both of these images are so beautiful!!! You are always spot on with composition…glad to hear someone else uses their books like “tools”…crossing out old info, penciling in new, adding notes in the margins, etc. i don’t feel I’m desecrating thrm but respecting them when I do this…they’re my tools and they are working for me….

  12. Bob McPherson July 8, 2016 at 7:19 am

    Terrific images, Mia.

  13. Kim July 8, 2016 at 6:32 am

    So pretty!

  14. Roger Burnard July 8, 2016 at 6:12 am

    Two very nice images Mia… well done, again. ;-)))

Comments are closed.